The Crime Report, an independent non-partisan medium for issues relating to crime and justice, published an article on March 7, 2010 called “The Death Penalty in Texas: A Change in Heart?”
The article focuses on recent trends in Texas regarding the decreasing number of death sentences across the state, most notably in Harris County. Harris County relentlessly sought the death penalty in the 1990s sending more than a dozen convicted felons a year to death row, accounting for a third of the current death row population. However in the last two years Harris County has not sent a single individual to death row.
The article sites a variety of reasons for the decline including the option given to juries in 2005 of life in prison without parole, the cost of a death penalty trial vs. life in prison, heightened concerns regarding wrongful convictions, and the general change in public opinion regarding the death penalty. According to research conducted by the Institute for Urban Research at Rice University, in Houston, support for the death penalty dropped to just 59 percent in 2007, down from a high of more than 79 percent 15 years earlier.
Despite such progress, Houston District Attorney Pat Lykos expectes her office to seek death in at least four cases in 2010, regardless of cost or public opinion stating “what we consider are the facts of the case and the statute.” As the article points out however, if recent trends are any guide, Harris County jurors “are not likely to go along.”
To read the article in its entirety, please follow the following link.